13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. ~~Galatians 5:13-15 (NASB95)
Maybe my memory deceives me. If any of you were involved in the pro-life movement prior to 1987, I’d welcome your correction if I remember things wrongly. I’m about to make an assertion based on my personal recollections of being in pro-life ministry, and I know full well that people who usually agree with me will adamantly oppose my convictions on this matter. I’m therefore open to hearing correction from people of my generation who fought to save unborn lives.
As I remember those early years when Francis Schaeffer and Dr. C. Everett Koop galvanized evangelicals to oppose abortion, infanticide and euthanasia with their film series, What Ever Happened To The Human Race?, I recall our unwillingness for any compromise. We understood the urgency of overturning Roe v. Wade. Precious babies were being slaughtered, and we needed to stand against laws that permitted such evil. We had no time to waste, and we wouldn’t settle for anything less than complete abolition of this horrible practice!
After several years of seeing absolutely nothing happen, we began to consider incremental steps to stopping abortion. Make no mistake — we continued praying for the total eradication of abortion, but we believed our all or nothing approach actually retarded our efforts. We decided that victory is best won by winning small battles first.
Tuesday night Fox News kept showing footage of angry protesters (mostly young women in less than modest attire) outside the Supreme Court building demanding that the justices not overturn Roe v. Wade. I wasn’t really surprised, but I still felt sad that they couldn’t understand that abortion takes the lives of the most vulnerable and innocent human beings. I also felt angered by their obvious selfishness. Essentially, they want sexual pleasure without its consequential responsibilities.
How odd to watch such a display mere days before Mother’s Day. Does anyone else see the irony of it? The commercials bookending shots of the protesters showed airbrushed images of devoted mothers who clearly cherished their children, urging fathers to buy them roses, chocolate and jewelry as tokens of appreciation. The mothers in the commercials clearly glowed with joy over the privilege of having brought little lives into the world. How different from the young women outside the Supreme Court who demanded to destroy their children before those children were even born!
Motherhood sometimes is inconvenient and difficult, certainly. Airbrushed commercials neglect to mention the countless sacrifices women make in order to bear and raise children. Please understand that I don’t ignore the truth that moms go through a lot of hardships and disappointments. Perhaps many of those protesters fear the challenges of motherhood precisely for those reasons. But, while I don’t want to minimize the downside of being a mom, I think it’s important to remember what Scripture teaches about children.
No one wants to believe that life begins at conception when she discovers that she’s pregnant against her will. Whether she suffered sexual abuse or willingly gave her body for the sake of pleasure, however, she has indeed created a human life. At that point, she probably feels trapped, desperately wanting to escape her pregnancy with as few consequences as possible. And even when she actually would like to keep the baby, her husband, boyfriend, parents or abuser may pressure her to “get rid of it.” Abortion can definitely seem like us easiest way out.
Especially if she convinces herself that it’s nothing more than a clump of tissue.
This webpage from BabyCenter.com, while it sadly avoids stating that life begins at conception, shows the week by week development of an unborn baby. Please notice that a baby’s heartbeat starts in the fifth week — before a mother usually knows she’s pregnant. Even if you can argue that the fetus isn’t a life prior to that occurrence, that heartbeat definitely indicates that life has begun! Psalm 139, in fact, includes a beautiful passage celebrating God’s care for the unborn:
Originally published January 25, 2018. My dear friend Ginny reminded me of this article after getting me up yesterday and witnessing the terrible pain I’ve been experiencing lately,
When doctors discovered that I had serious birth defects, they advised my mother to put me in an institution and forget she ever had me. According to them, I’d be a vegetable my entire life. (Thus John refers to me as his spicy little tomato.) Thankfully, Mom rejected their counsel, put me through college and lived to see me get married a month before my 49th birthday.
My mother didn’t raise a turnip, thank you very much!
All joking aside, I understand that the doctors sincerely believed they made a humane recommendation. Certainly, because they doubted that I had cognitive function, they concluded that I couldn’t possibly tell the difference between a loving home and an institution. And, more importantly (from their perspective), my parents would be spared the anguish of having a severely disabled child.
Mom knew that doctors aren’t God. They have limited powers in predicting an infant’s future. So she brought me home and proceeded to make my childhood as normal and happy as possible. When one teacher told her I’d never go to high school, she informed him that she fully intended for me to attend college. When my occupational therapist insisted that she tell me I’d never marry, she countered, “I can’t tell her something that I don’t know myself.”
Those chilling words, “Put her in an institution and forget you ever had her,” horrified my mother. They horrify me. They horrify everyone who hears the story, as well they should! Doctors have no right to predict a baby’s future and advise a new mother to put the baby away. Had Mom followed their recommendation, both of us would have suffered for the rest of our lives.
I praise God for His sovereignty in giving me a mother who refused to give up her dreams for me. Cerebral Palsy definitely has its challenges, I admit, but the Lord has blessed me with a joyful life.
13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. ~~Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV)
Thinking about the doctors’ prediction 64 years ago makes me think about present-day doctors who, on the basis of prenatal tests, recommend abortion to women carrying children with potential birth defects. Typically, they reason that such children, in addition to imposing an enormous financial and emotional burden on the family, would needlessly suffer a low quality of life.
But how can anyone accurately predict the future of a baby who is still in the womb, even if genetic testing indicates birth defects? Perhaps a child will be nothing more than a vegetable, but even then, God might have a purpose for that life. As a matter of fact, He used such a man to bring me to repentance of self-pity.
Usually, however, children born with birth defects exceed expectations and live full, productive lives. Aborting them simply because of possible disabilities (especially when the extent of those disabilities couldn’t possibly be determined until well into childhood) seems both arrogant and cruel. Using potential disability as a rationale for aborting a child is horrifying to me.
Actually, the rationale for aborting any child is horrifying to me.